Etymology
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mail (n.1)

"post, letters," c. 1200, "a traveling bag, sack for keeping small articles of personal property," a sense now obsolete, from Old French male "wallet, bag, bundle," from Frankish *malha or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *malho- (source also of Old High German malaha "wallet, bag," Middle Dutch male "bag"), from PIE *molko- "skin, bag."

The sense was extended to "bag full of letters" (1650s; perhaps via phrases such as a mail of letters, 1654) and "person or vehicle that carries postal matter" (1650s). From thence, to "letters and parcels" generally (1680s) and "the system of transmission by public post" (1690s).

As a newspaper name, by 1789. In 19c. England, mail was letters going abroad, while home dispatches were post. Sense of "a personal batch of letters" is from 1844, originally American English. Mail slot "narrow opening in an exterior door of a building to receive mail delivery" is by 1893, American English. OED defines it as a "letter-slit."

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color (n.)

early 13c., "skin color, complexion," from Anglo-French culur, coulour, Old French color "color, complexion, appearance" (Modern French couleur), from Latin color "color of the skin; color in general, hue; appearance," from Old Latin colos, originally "a covering" (akin to celare "to hide, conceal"), from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save." Old English words for "color" were hiw ("hue"), bleo. For sense evolution, compare Sanskrit varnah "covering, color," which is related to vrnoti "covers," and also see chroma.

Colour was the usual English spelling from 14c., from Anglo-French. Classical correction made color an alternative from 15c., and that spelling became established in the U.S. (see -or). 

Meaning "a hue or tint, a visible color, the color of something" is from c. 1300. As "color as an inherent property of matter, that quality of a thing or appearance which is perceived by the eye alone," from late 14c. From early 14c. as "a coloring matter, pigment, dye." From mid-14c. as "kind, sort, variety, description." From late 14c. in figurative sense of "stylistic device, embellishment. From c. 1300 as "a reason or argument advanced by way of justifying, explaining, or excusing an action," hence "specious reason or argument, that which hides the real character of something" (late 14c.).

From c. 1300 as "distinctive mark of identification" (as of a badge or insignia or livery, later of a prize-fighter, horse-rider, etc.), originally in reference to a coat of arms. Hence figurative sense as in show one's (true) colors "reveal one's opinions or intentions;" compare colors.

In reference to "the hue of the darker (as distinguished from the 'white') varieties of mankind" [OED], attested from 1792, in people of colour, in translations from French in reference to the French colony of Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti) and there meaning "mulattoes."

In reference to musical tone from 1590s. Color-scheme is from 1860. Color-coded is by 1943, in reference to wiring in radios and military aircraft. Color-line in reference to social and legal discrimination by race in the U.S. is from 1875, originally referring to Southern whites voting in unity and taking back control of state governments during Reconstruction (it had been called white line about a year earlier, and with more accuracy).

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rocket (n.2)

[self-propelling projectile] 1610s, "projectile consisting of a cylindrical tube of pasteboard filled with flammable or explosive matter," from Italian rocchetto "a rocket," literally "a bobbin," diminutive of rocca "a distaff," so called because of cylindrical shape. The Italian word probably is from a Germanic source (compare Old High German rocko "distaff," Middle Dutch rokke, Old Norse rokkr), from Proto-Germanic *rukkon- (from PIE root *rug- "fabric, spun yarn").

Originally of fireworks rockets, the meaning "device propelled by a rocket engine" is recorded by 1919 (Goddard); rocket-ship in the space-travel sense is attested from February 1927 ("Popular Science"); earlier as a type of naval warship firing projectiles. Rocket science in the figurative sense of "difficult, complex process or topic" is attested by 1985; rocket scientist is from 1952.

That such a feat is considered within the range of possibility is evidenced by the activities of scientists in Europe as well as in America. Two of them, Prof. Herman Oberth and Dr. Franz Hoeff, of Vienna, are constructing a five-ton rocket ship in which they hope to reach the moon in two days. [Popular Science, February 1927]
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soul (n.1)

"A substantial entity believed to be that in each person which lives, feels, thinks and wills" [Century Dictionary], Old English sawol "spiritual and emotional part of a person, animate existence; life, living being," from Proto-Germanic *saiwalō (source also of Old Saxon seola, Old Norse sala, Old Frisian sele, Middle Dutch siele, Dutch ziel, Old High German seula, German Seele, Gothic saiwala), of uncertain origin.

Sometimes said to mean originally "coming from or belonging to the sea," because that was supposed to be the stopping place of the soul before birth or after death [Barnhart]; if so, it would be from Proto-Germanic *saiwaz (see sea). Klein explains this as "from the lake," as a dwelling-place of souls in ancient northern Europe.

Meaning "spirit of a deceased person" is attested in Old English from 971. As a synonym for "person, individual, human being" (as in every living soul) it dates from early 14c. Soul-searching (n.) is attested from 1871, from the phrase used as a present-participle adjective (1610s). Distinguishing soul from spirit is a matter best left to theologians.

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arbiter (n.)

late 14c., "person who has power of judging absolutely according to his own pleasure in a dispute or issue," from Old French arbitre "arbiter, judge" (13c.) and directly from Latin arbiter "one who goes somewhere (as witness or judge)," in classical Latin used of spectators and eye-witnesses; specifically in law, "he who hears and decides a case, a judge, umpire, mediator;" from ad "to" (see ad-) + baetere "to come, go," a word of unknown etymology.

The attestations suggest that baetō was the original form which sometimes became bētō, while -bītō was regular in non-initial syllables (especially in Plautus). Where bītō occurs independently (4x in Plautus), it must be a decompounded form. [de Vaan]

The specific sense of "one chosen by two disputing parties to decide the matter" is from 1540s. Compare arbitrator. The earliest form of the word attested in English is the fem. noun arbitress (mid-14c.) "a woman who settles disputes." Gaius Petronius Arbiter (circa 27-66 C.E.) was a friend of Nero, noted voluptuary, reputed author of the "Satyricon," and an authority on matters of taste and style (elegantiae arbiter, punning on the name).

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buff (n.1)

kind of thick, soft leather, 1570s, buffe leather "leather made of buffalo hide," from  French buffle "buffalo" (15c., via Italian, from Latin bufalus; see buffalo (n.)).

The color term "light brownish-yellow" (by 1788) comes from the hue of buff leather. Association of "hide" and "skin" led c. 1600 to the sense in in the buff "naked." Buff-colored uniforms of New York City volunteer firefighters since 1820s led to the meaning "enthusiast" (1903).

These men, together with a score or more of young boys who cherish ambitions to be firemen some day, make up the unofficial Fire Department of New York, and any one who imagines they are not a valuable branch of the service need only ask any firemen [sic] what he thinks of the Buffs to find out his mistake. The Buffs are men and boys whose love of fires, fire-fighting and firemen is a predominant characteristic, who simply cannot keep away from fires, no matter at what time of the day or night they occur, or how long they continue. [New York Sun, Feb. 4, 1903]
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secret (n.)

late 14c., "that which is hidden from human understanding;" early 15c., "that which is hidden from general knowledge;" from Latin secretum "secrecy; a mystery; a thing hidden; secret conversation," also "retirement, solitude," noun from secretus "set apart, withdrawn; hidden, concealed, private." This is a past-participle adjective from secernere "to set apart, part, divide; exclude," from se- "without, apart," properly "on one's own" (see se-) + cernere "to separate" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish").

The meaning "something studiously hidden or concealed; what is not or should not be revealed" in English is from mid-15c. The sense of "key or principle by which some difficulty is solved" is from 1738, perhaps via the notion of "method or process hidden from the uninitiated" (late 15c.).

The alternative form secre, from an Old French variant form of secret, was common 14c.-16c. and seems to have been more frequent originally. It also was a variant of the adjective.

Open secret "matter or fact which is known to many; a secret which all who care to may learn" is from 1828. To keep (a) secret is from mid-15c. Secrets "parts of the body which propriety requires to be concealed" is by 1530s.

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odor (n.)

c. 1300, "sweet smell, scent, fragrance," from Anglo-French odour, from Old French odor "smell, perfume, fragrance" (12c., Modern French odeur) and directly from Latin odor "a smell, a scent" (pleasant or disagreeable), from PIE root *hed- "to smell" (source also of Latin olere "emit a smell, to smell of," with Sabine -l- for -d-; Greek ozein "to smell," odmē "odor, scent;" Armenian hotim "I smell;" Lithuanian uodžiu, uosti "to smell, sniff;" Old Czech jadati "to investigate, explore").

Neutral sense of "smell as an inherent property of matter; scent or fragrance whether pleasant or not" is from late 14c. "[W]hen used without a qualifying adjunct, the word usually denotes an agreeable smell" [Century Dictionary, 1895]. Good or bad odor, in reference to repute or esteem, is from 1835. Odor of sanctity (1756) is from French odeur de sainteté (17c.) "sweet or balsamic scent said to be exhaled by the bodies of eminent saints at death or upon disinterment." In Middle English odor also had a figurative sense of "spiritual fragrance of Christ's sacrifice." 

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prohibition (n.)

late 14c., prohibicioun, "act of prohibiting or forbidding, a forbidding by authority, an order forbidding certain actions," from Anglo-French and Old French prohibition, prohibicion (early 13c.), from Latin prohibitionem (nominative prohibitio) "a hindering, forbidding; legal prohibition," noun of action from past-participle stem of prohibere "hold back, restrain, hinder, prevent," from pro "away, forth" (see pro-) + habere "to hold" (from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive").

The meaning "interdiction by law of the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, except for medicinal or sacramental uses," is by 1851, American English. The national Prohibition party in the U.S. organized in 1869. The policy was in effect nationwide in U.S. as law 1920-1933 under the Volstead Act.

People whose youth did not coincide with the twenties never had our reverence for strong drink. Older men knew liquor before it became the symbol of a sacred cause. Kids who began drinking after 1933 take it as a matter of course. ... Drinking, we proved to ourselves our freedom as individuals and flouted Congress. We conformed to a popular type of dissent — dissent from a minority. It was the only period during which a fellow could be smug and slopped concurrently. [A.J. Liebling, "Between Meals," 1959]

Related: Prohibitionist; prohibitionism.

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resolution (n.)

late 14c., resolucioun, "a breaking or reducing into parts; process of breaking up, dissolution," from Old French resolution (14c.) and directly from Latin resolutionem (nominative resolutio) "process of reducing things into simpler forms," noun of action from past participle stem of resolvere "to loosen" (see resolve (v.)).

From the notion of "process of resolving or reducing a non-material thing into simpler forms" (late 14c.) as a method of problem-solving comes the sense of "a solving" (as of mathematical problems), recorded by 1540s, as is that of "power of holding firmly, character of acting with a fixed purpose" (compare resolute (adj.)). The meaning "steadfastness of purpose" is by 1580s. The meaning "effect of an optical instrument in rendering component parts of objects distinguishable" is by 1860. In Middle English it also could mean "a paraphrase" (as a breaking up and rearranging of a text or translation). 

In mid-15c. it also meant "frame of mind," often implying a pious or moral determination. By 1580s as "a statement upon some matter;" hence "formal decision or expression of a meeting or assembly," c. 1600. New Year's resolution in reference to a specific intention to better oneself is from at least the 1780s, and through 19c. they generally were of a pious nature.

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